Except Me Too, Except Me Three

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

There are two exceptions the Heat have available to pursue two big men and a point guard: the $5.1 million mid-level exception and the $1.6 million exception (which is unfortunately still called the million dollar exception). Pat Riley says re-signing Rafer Alston is the team's number one priority, but Alston wants three years. To be able to offer him a three-year contract, the Heat have to dip into the $5.1 million mid-level exception. That means they need to get a free agent big man signed to a two-year, $1.6 million deal and split the mid-level exception between Alston and another big man. Does this mean Mark Blount is out of the question?

Blount is probably looking for a full MLE contract but that would mean the Heat would have to part ways with Alston, unless he relents and agrees to a two-year deal. The important thing about three year deals is that they expire in 2007, at the same type as Brian Grant and Eddie Jones, leaving the Heat with a monstrous amount of salary cap space. If you can wait that long, expect the Heat to be the major players in that offseason.

In the meantime, the likely bigs that Riley will be pursuing are, according to theMiami Heraldbelow, Blount, Brian Skinner, Keon Clark, Antonio McDyess, Vlade Divac, Greg Ostertag, and Robert Traylor. It seems that the last three names would not be the best at fitting in with an up-tempo pace, and that Clark and McDyess have injury concerns. Blount, as noted above, may turn out to be too expensive. That leaves Skinner.

Is Brian Skinner Miami's second priority?

Does Riley regret not picking up Jameer Nelson now? Then he could have let Alston walk if he didn't agree to the two-year deal and used both exceptions to try to land two quality bigs.

Instead, if he lets Alston go now, he will have to pursue another free agent point guard, such as Richie Frahm or Damon Jones. No matter how you look at it, the Heat need three players and have just two exceptions. If only they had drafted an NBA-ready point guard in the draft. Perhaps the Heat's only hope now is a sign-and-trade.

The Heat will participate in the second annual Orlando Pepsi Pro Summer League July 6-10 at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, Florida. Their first game will be on Tuesday, July 6th versus the Washington Wizards at 3:00 p.m. EDT. The remainder of their schedule is as follows: 

*Tuesday, July 6th - Washington - 3:00 p.m. EDT
*Wednesday, July 7th - Cleveland - 3:00 p.m. EDT
*Thursday, July 8th - New Jersey - 7:00 p.m. EDT
*Friday, July 9th - Orlando - 5:00 p.m. EDT
*Saturday, July 10th - Boston - 10:00 a.m. EDT

Miami President Pat Riley has confirmed extensions for coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Randy Pfund.

New Spanish stations: The team has announced that it is moving all of its Spanish radio broadcasts from 830 AM WACC to 1140 AM WQBA .


Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Using two salary-cap exceptions, a $5.1 million midlevel exception and a $1.6 million exception, the Heat will try to sign three potential impact players, ideally adding two big men and a point guard.''Somehow,'' Heat president Pat Riley said, ``we have to use the $1.6 [million] and the $5.1 [million] to get three players.'' While it may seem easy to split the midlevel exception between two players and offer the $1.6 million exception to a third, it's not likely to be that simple. Early in the negotiation process, the big men the Heat likely will pursue will undoubtedly ask for the entire midlevel exception as their starting salary. While there are free agent big men who are worth that type of salary, if not more, Riley doesn't consider signing those players a realistic option. So that leaves the Heat considering a group that includes Mark Blount, Brian Skinner, Keon Clark, Antonio McDyess, Vlade Divac, Greg Ostertag and Robert Traylor.

Ira Winderman ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Again operating above the NBA salary cap, the Heat is limited to a $5.1 million mid-level salary-cap exception and a $1.6 million cap exception.The larger exception can be split into multiple contracts for up to six seasons apiece. The lower exception can be for no more than two seasons. "Somehow," Riley said, "we have to find a way to use the 1.6 and the 5 to get three players." He is hopeful one of those is backup point guard Rafer Alston. But at 28, Alston is looking for a longer-term deal, which likely would mean cutting into the larger exception.

Ira Winderman ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Heat President Pat Riley proudly said Wednesday, "We are introducing to you the first-ever high school player that we've ever drafted."Riley and coach Stan Van Gundy then talked about how the team already is ignoring the fact that that 6-foot-7 Dorell Wright is a mere 18 years old.